Alligator

River flooding has caused higher water levels locally and around the state.

This, in turn, has placed alligators in waters where they can sometimes come in contact with the public.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said this week that it is dangerous to feed alligators, urging the public to avoid doing so when they see the reptiles.

LDWF sent out a release urging the public to avoid alligators as best as possible when on the water to limit potentially dangerous situations.

LDWF Alligator Program Manager Jeb Linscombe said like any other animal, gators become attracted to those who give them nourishment. But unlike other animals (like dogs and cats), their bite can be fatal, if things go wrong. It also will increase the number of sightings, because the gators will make it part of their routine to swim in places where they know there may be food, thus increasing the risk.

“When alligators are fed by humans they overcome their fear and natural shyness and become attracted to humans,’’ said Linscombe. “That is why it is so vital not to feed or entice them. We also strongly recommend to use caution when swimming at any time in areas frequented by alligators.”

LDWF said the best way to avoid conflict is to avoid the animals altogether, keeping a safe distance away from them as best as possible when out on the water.

Linscombe said one of the problems that arises is that people often are feeding the gators without even realizing that they're doing so.

He said that when people toss fish scraps or crawfish peels or other leavings in the water, the gators think you're intending to feed them, so they school in the area.

LDWF recommends these “do’s” and “don’t’s” when coming in contact with alligators:

-Do use common sense and precautions.

-Do inform others that feeding alligators creates safety problems for those who want to use the water for recreational purposes.

-Don’t allow small children to play by themselves around water bodies that may contain alligators.

-Don’t throw fish scraps into the water or leave them on shore. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators the end result can be the same.

-Do dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at boat ramps or fish camps.

-Do enjoy viewing and photographing wild alligators from a safe distance.·

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LDWF also reminded locals that it's illegal to kill, harass, molest or attempt to move alligators. Don't try and remove any gators from their natural habitat or accept one as a pet.

In addition to the illegality, this is also very dangerous for citizens.

Alligators do not become tame in captivity and handling them - even smaller ones - may result in bites.

LDWF said locals should be especially careful to not touch or go near hatchlings, because while they may seem innocent on the surface, the mother is almost always nearby and will be very territorial to her young.

Anyone experiencing problems with nuisance alligators may contact any LDWF office to make a nuisance alligator complaint.

For more information, go to the LDWF website alligator page or contact Jeb Linscombe at jlinscombe@wlf.la.gov.

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Casey Gisclair is the Sports Editor at Rushing Media. A native of Cut Off and graduate of Louisiana State University, Casey is a lifelong sports fan who joined the Houma Times team in Dec. 2009 upon college graduation.

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